The Human Freelancer

Happy and honest self-employment for conscientious newcomers

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If only this book existed five years ago when I was where you are now. Toying with the idea of life without alarm clocks, you crave a lifestyle with work that fits around more pressing engagements like whimsy, pastries and fingering your partner. A life of self-employment.

Back then I needed useful insight on how to do the right thing. Yet more importantly, I sought kindly reassurance to bolster my ailing self-esteem that was affirming but not obnoxiously preachy like a life-coach vomiting positivity all over your chi. But fifteen seconds of thorough research on Amazon concluded there wasn’t anything published that’s up to the job.

Lots of self-help business books for entrepreneurs (we’ll deal with that epithet later) just tell you how to bleed society dry for your own greedy financial gain like a shameless capitalist vampire. They perpetuate the myth that success is relentless growth and more of everything means progress. They teach you about bookkeeping and market research – things you might need to do of course, but let’s face it they’re fucking boring.

Write a book you’d read the literary adage says. So here it is, stuffed full of empathy and emotional support for vulnerable newbies to self-employment like you. It’s written from the perspective of a freelancer (because that’s what I am) and suits a lifestyle where anywhere’s your office as long as there’s an Internet connection. I use self-employed and freelance interchangeably to refer to the same thing: you in charge of your own destiny. Nomenclature aside, there’s plenty of useful insight here relevant to contractors, part-timers, tradespeople and anyone else who wants to earn a living on their own terms however you identify yourself.

Buy this book if you’re sensitive, brave and want to do the right thing on a happy journey of fulfilment. Because that’s what I believe self-employment should be; a string of experiences, both good and bad, which incrementally improve who you are. Believe it or not, this pursuit doesn’t make you a hippy – a jealous taunt you might hear from job-hating salary slaves who spend forty-plus hours a week smashing their heads against the man’s desk seeking sensation.

As you can see, I’m not impartial on the issue of whether self-employment is the right choice. I believe crafting an honest and sustainable living using your talents and being accountable only to yourself is the natural order of things. So if you’ve already made the decision to be your own boss, you’re already a success even if you stop reading now (don’t though because it gets better, I promise).

We’ll also redefine what success is. If success means you earn enough to work two days a week and spend the rest of your time interfering with vegetables and drawing willies then by that definition I’m a success. So you should definitely listen to what I have to say.

In this book I dissuade you from suckling at the rotting teat of Thatcherism. My words are motivated less by money, more about happiness and gaining time to do the things that put you there. I like to think of my prose like a kindly mentor who puts their arm around your shoulder and says:

“Self-employment is incredible, but it’s challenging and you’ll be tested emotionally in ways you’ve never been tested before, except maybe that time when you followed through at your mum’s funeral. You’ll be OK though because I’ve been on this journey too and I’m ready to share lots of thoughtful advice if you want it. And try not to worry because everything always works out in the end.”

Then, just when you begin to trust your mentor, they slip you a digit and cup your genitals. I really hope you enjoy dark humour because there’s lots of inappropriate metaphors here to make my points more memorable and harrowing. It’s also to remind you not to take anything too seriously – you’ve got to have fun along the way.

While we’re pissing on Thatcher’s rotting corpse let me be absolutely clear about the political ideology behind my words. In a prevailing climate of homogeneous grey career-politicians scared to do anything bold enough to upset Daily Mail readers, I’m unashamedly leftist with a penchant for socialism. I bake bread and think I’m enlightened which might piss some people off. But that’s OK, because if you’re one of those people who don’t believe they deserve to be happy then this book isn’t for you. Go and read something by Jeremy Clarkson instead.

If you’re intelligent enough to buy this book you’ll gain lots of well-intentioned, if often irreverent, advice from the soul of an emotionally-liberated nineties man. Adopted by Yorkshire, I’ve inherited all its virtues of thrift, honesty and pride with self-awareness and swearwords in proportionate measure.

Although I write from the perspective of a digital and creative industry professional, the gems and outright dog-eggs you’ll discover between these pages apply to any newly freelance or self-employed person in any industry ready to make a living from their skills and experience. This book also contains advice I’ve absorbed from influential people I’ve met along the way, read about or completely fabricated in my imagination. In any case, none of them are credited and all pearls of wholly correct wisdom are mine and all errors or conceit are their fault entirely.

Finally, remember that this is just one way to look at things, not the only way. The right way is your way with a healthy blend of endless curiosity and experience (both good and terrifying).

Oh, and one more thing – don’t be an arsehole.

The Human Freelancer book

LOOK! There's a book full of this shit and more!

Self-help business books perpetuate the myth that success is relentless growth and more of everything means progress. They preach about bookkeeping and market research: things you might need to do of course. But let’s face it they’re fucking boring.

The Human Freelancer book is your antidote: stuffed full of emotional support and insightful advice for vulnerable newbies to self-employment like you.

Buy it now